Competition newcomer Pepsi Caserta sits alone atop Group K halfway through the Last 16 after holding onto a precious 87-85 home win against dangerous Asefa Estudiantes on Tuesday. Caserta's victory broke their tie for first place, leaving the hosts at 3-0 and Estudiantes at 2-1 with three games left in the round. The lead swayed back and forth all game, but was largely in the hands of Estudiantes until Caserta opened the final quarter with a 10-3 run. Estudiantes got close a couple times after, most importantly on a Tyrone Ellis triple to make it 86-85 in the waning seconds, but his teammate Albert Oliver missed on the buzzer, allowing Caserta to escape with the victory. Ebi Ere led five Caserta scorers in double-figures with 17 points. Jumaine Jones added 15, Timmy Bowers 14 - including 10 in the fourth quarter - Lukasz Koszarek 13 and Luca Garri 10. Estudiantes big men German Gabriel and Josh Asselin scored 20 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the guests. Oliver added 12 and Ellis 11, including 6 of their team's perfect 19-for-19 free throw shooting.
Estudiantes blasted from the gate to a 2-8 advantage on 6 points by Asselin. After Caserta tied, Asselin was good for 4 more points to keep the guests ahead 8-12. Jones was up to 6 points, however, and when Aaron Doornekamp landed in the scoring column with a steal-layup-free throw combo, the hosts were tied 16-16. Fabio Di Bella's big triple then sparked a 0-9 run that pushed Caserta's first lead all the way to 25-16. Estudiantes finally reacted, with late baskets by Daniel Clark and Jiri Welsch, closing the gap to 25-22 after 10 minutes. Oliver closed it completely with a triple to start the second quarter, but Caserta's subs refused to give up a lead, and soon Jones hit a triple to restore the home team’s advantage at 36-29. Doornekamp, Koszarek and Philip Martin pushed the hosts higher until Ere's three-pointer made it 44-32. Estudiantes had time left in the half, however, and used 4 points each by big men Gabriel and Asselin to finish the half with a 3-12 run that cut the difference to 47-44 at the break.
Asselin dunked to start the second half at 47-46, and after Jones reacted with a triple for Caserta, got big scoring help from Nik Caner-Medley and Welsch, whose 7 points in a row vaulted Estudiantes ahead 50-53. Ere dunked in the middle of a scoring lull that Gabriel ended with a triple and free throws to keep Estudiantes up 52-58. Suddenly, Ere and Koszarek answerd with back-to-back triples as Caserta re-took a 61-60 lead. Welsch's three-point play put Estudiantes back in front, 61-63 after 30 minutes. To start the fourth quarter, Caserta's defense played the starring role, allowing just a three-pointer by Ellis for the first 6 minutes while the hosts reeled off 10 points, including 4 by Bowers, to seize a 71-66 lead. Gabriel helped Estudiantes get back to within 76-74 before a three-point play by Garri and a three-point shot by Jones seemingly shut the door on the guests. Not so, however. Oliver's layup and Gabriel's free throws got Estudiantes closer and Ellis detonated a late triple to make it 86-85. Ere missed 1 of his 2 free throws, giving Oliver a chance to win it, but his three-pointer missed, leaving the win with Caserta.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011